As a new semester begins at Tyler Junior College, so does a new era for the Speech and Theater Department.
Dr. David Crawford has stepped down from his position as department chair after serving for 25 years, making way for Lara Smith to fill the post.
“It became a full-time job where I was losing touch with teaching and creating,” said Crawford, who has been a faculty member in the department for 32 years. “I’m running away from pencil-pushing and back into the theater.”
Crawford, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from Texas Tech University, is an accomplished director and published playwright.
“I can see retiring in seven to 10 years, and I’d like to see the rest of my time here spent in the theater creating rather than administrating,” said Crawford.
Crawford expressed his enthusiasm about Smith assuming his former position. “She works very well with the whole faculty. I think she will do very well in the job. She’s smart, capable and likable.”
Smith, who started teaching in the department part-time in 1992, has been a full-time instructor for the past two years, typically teaching four classes including public speaking. She holds a Bachelor of Behavioral Science from Hardin Simmons University, and a Master of Arts from Baylor University.
“I’m thrilled to be part of the department in this capacity,” said Smith. “I anticipate the continuation of improvement in the already great program.”
The change in leadership of the department has been met generally with support from students in the department.
“I think it will be great for the department. Her fresh perspective and analytical mind will bring a lot of benefit to the program,” said Daphne White, sophomore theater major.
“She is amazing at being there for students and faculty and getting everythingorganized around the department. She’s perfect for the job,” agreed sophomore theater major Kalyn Holloway, who is employed as Smith’s student assistant.
Though excited to begin a new chapter and help continue the growth of the department, Smith acknowledged the service of Crawford before her.
“I appreciate the leadership of Dr. Crawford and hope to be able to fill his very large shoes.”
Smith wishes to encourage anyone interested in getting involved in the department, whether that be in theater productions or forensics and debate, to contact her for more information on how they can participate. She can be reached at 903-510-3242.